Grime guards and needle minders, oh my!

Newspaper photo of LeeWards craft store

When I first learned to cross stitch as a kid I went with my mom and dad to various local craft stores on the weekends. Some of them, like LeeWards, aren’t around anymore, but I remember them so clearly. The LeeWards that we shopped at was actually in a mall, which made it even more fun. LeeWards was bought by Michaels in 1994, and my mom and I had a lot of fun buying things at their going out of business sale for 90% off. I also remember that craft stores were stocked with a lot more patterns and kits to choose from that it seems like you can find in person now. But what’s been most surprising to me since getting back into cross stitch is all the accessories you can get now! It’s definitely been driven by platforms like Etsy that give independent creators the ability to sell their designs online to a wider audience. I’ll admit that I thought some of these accessories were a little silly at first and that I didn’t need them, but of course I was quickly proven wrong.

Needle minders

If you’re a fan of, well, anything, then there’s a needle minder out there for you! A needle minder is a small object, usually flat, with a strong magnet glued to it and another that you use to place under your fabric to hold it. You can then place your needle on the object when you need to walk away from your project or while you’re cutting more floss. I first saw these when I joined a cross stitch group on Facebook and, while I thought they were cute, I also didn’t really think they were all that necessary. Then I started noticing how easy it can be to lose track of your needle. Plus they’re just a fun little thing to keep you company while you stitch. I can’t live without them now! Needle minders are definitely my favorite stitching accessory.

You can also easily make them yourself. All you need are some neodymium magnets and E6000 glue. I have to warn you, though: it’s addicting! You’ll start finding all sorts of little objects around your house that you can turn into needle minders. The rhinestone one above actually used to be attached to a bobby pin. I was going to glue it back on, but it serves a much better purpose as a needle minder and makes me feel like an extra fancy stitcher. The other two are from Etsy.

Grime guards

These have probably been around for a long time, but I was unfamiliar with grime guards until recently. Basically just a circle of fabric with elastic edges, they protect the fabric of your work in progress from dirt and stains from your hands.

Just like the needle minders, you can find them on Etsy in all sorts of patterns and designs. They can be used on hoops or the Q-snap frames. I’m going to try making my own soon because I’ve noticed that the guards tend to be fairly wide for hoops and tend to get in the way once you progress out from the middle of your project. Thread Bare has a great tutorial.

Thread catcher

Yes, you can certainly just make a little pile of threads and throw them away at the end of a stitching sessions or confine them to a ziploc bag, but a thread catcher is just so much more fun! I found this nifty collapsible fabric one on Etsy from MushroomsInBloom. It was a little expensive and took a while to arrive since it came all the way from Australia, but it was completely worth it. It’s so well made and just such an enchanting little object. You push the top down to form the cup that holds your threads and then twist to collapse, keeping everything neatly inside. I love that it becomes flat so it stores easily in my project box.

As it turns out, they’re not too difficult to make yourself, either. If you’re like me then you probably have plenty of extra fabric and other stuff hanging around for projects like these. I love the upcycling and reuse possibilities!

Cute bobbins

I snapped up these cat bobbins on Amazon when I happened upon them. Aren’t they just the cutest??

They’re not as practical as the traditional flat shape that you can buy in plastic or cardboard, but they’re a fun option for small projects with 10 colors or less. You could also use them for frequently used colors like black and white. Etsy is the best place to find cute bobbins in different animals shapes like hedgehogs or llamas. I also like these neon plastic ones. You can occasionally find some in craft stores, too.

Floss organizers

I don’t have one of these in my supplies yet, but if I ever start that pillow kit I have then I definitely will. Basic plastic floss organizers have been around for a long time, and lots of kits come with paper or cardboard versions. Who wants to be basic, though, when there are some truly beautiful options out there? Floss organizers are also a great choice if you don’t want to take the time to wind your floss on bobbins. You can cut several lengths of each color in your project, loop them through the holes, and then you’re ready to go every time you need to switch colors. Ok, yup, I’m ordering this one now!

How about you? What’s your favorite stitching accessory? If I missed one here that you love please tell me all about it!

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